REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. — The Rehoboth Beach Board of Commissioners preliminarily voted on Dec. 16 to extend the hours of operation for businesses with patios to 1 a.m., to make those hours comply with end of serving times inside those establishments. Four commissioners and Mayor Sam Cooper voted in favor, one was absent, and Commissioner Stan Mills recused himself from the vote. Mills was cited by the state’s Public Integrity Commission for personally urging the police and mayor to crack down on businesses that he felt were violating regulations regarding restaurant patios.
The issue arose in September 2010, when several business owners were arrested and cited for noise violations, including at LGBT favorites Aqua and Blue Moon. Charges ended up being dropped when the city realized that it could not effectively enforce this regulation, and in one case, when an establishment proved it did not fall under this regulation.
The Commission discussed and debated for several months into the spring, when it voted in March on a moratorium until Jan. 1, 2012, on enforcement of the regulations involving patios.
It was noted during the Commission’s meeting that there were only five complaints filed this summer about patios and noise, a considerable drop from more than 100 last year.
The vote set in motion a procedure to change the regulation, with a public hearing on the proposed change to be held Jan. 20, 2012, followed by a vote by the commissioners.